With the holiday season approaching, it’s good to add some fun into teaching to keep your students engaged and motivated. We’ve created 12 simple classroom activities and tips that you can carry out with your primary class to encourage them to be good.
4 key challenges in secondary education
Let’s examine four of the most common challenges secondary teachers have and look into some strategies to help solve them.
1. My students are afraid of making mistakes
You’re not alone! Many teachers say their teenage students are quiet and unwilling to answer questions in class. Sometimes, this might simply be because they don’t know the answers, but more often than not, they are nervous about making mistakes.
When children grow into teenagers, they tend to become more self-conscious and worried about what their peers think of them – and making mistakes in public is a big no-no for them. However, there are several ways to facilitate a safe learning environment where your students are happy and willing to talk. Sometimes, though, it takes a little experimentation. Here are some things you can try:
When students make mistakes, ensure that you praise them for taking a risk or making an effort. Correct their errors and be clear with the rest of the class that the only way to learn is to try new things.
Don’t tolerate any bullying or laughing when someone gets an answer wrong. If your students fear that others will mock them for their efforts, they’ll stay quiet. So make sure you have clear rules and that your students understand that mistakes are normal and to be expected.
Have students discuss their answers in pairs or groups
If your students are painfully shy and afraid of making mistakes, avoid picking on individuals to answer questions in front of the class. Instead, when asking a question, tell your students to discuss it in pairs or small groups first. This will allow them to formulate their ideas and feel more confident. Afterwards, you can ask the pairs to share what they discussed – leading to a natural open-class discussion.
Listen to your students
Another, powerful way of engaging your students in discussion is to listen to a conversation they are having with their partners and then express how impressed you are with their ideas during a feedback session. E.g. “You said X, which I thought was very interesting. Could you explain this to the class? It was a great idea.” This gives them the confidence to share their thoughts.
2. My students are not engaged with the activities I choose
This is another very common problem for teachers of teenagers. You spend a lot of time thinking of fun, interesting activities – then, when you present them to the class, your students look away and say they’re bored. Soon enough, you’ll get frustrated and not know how to re-engage them. Here are some ideas to help:
Get to know your students
Without fail, the best way to engage your students is by getting to know them as individuals over the year. Find out about their hobbies and interests outside of school, and learn what makes them laugh and what worries them. Use your knowledge of your students to find interesting books to read, videos to watch, or relevant subjects to discuss. This way, you’ll deliver tailored lessons your students find truly interesting and useful.
Allow a degree of autonomy
Sometimes quietness is also a sign of disengagement with the learning materials. To get past this obstacle, you can get your students to brainstorm things that interest them in groups, list them on the board and have a class vote on the topic of their next class project. As a teacher, you always have the power to veto inappropriate ideas, but giving students a voice is a powerful way of making them feel valued and involved in their own education.
Make things (a little) competitive
Even teenagers love games! And play is an integral part of learning, as it allows our students to be themselves, have fun, and communicate freely at the same time. By allowing them to play language-focused games in class, they’ll soon forget their inhibitions and start talking.
3. My students just want to do grammar exercises
Language is all about communication, speaking, listening, reading and writing – yet all your students want to do is grammar exercises. Frustrating as this is, it’s probably a sign that our students are not confident in their speaking or listening abilities. Here’s what you can do:
Encourage free language practice
Grammar activities are very structured and there is often a clear answer. Day-to-day communications, however, are much freer, which can intimidate less confident students. This activity will help you combine the two aspects of language learning:
- Put students in small groups and give them a set of cards with exciting topics printed on them—for example; music, sports, environment, school, vacations, friends, food.
- Tell students that they should each choose a card and speak freely about their topic for 30 seconds – the short time will help them overcome their fear of speaking and can be gradually increased as they get used to this type of activity.
- Have students record themselves when they are speaking and then, when they listen back, have them identify the grammatical structures they used.
They should write down and correct any mistakes under your guidance. Not only will this get students used to talking and encourage a lot of emergent language, but it will also help them feel they are practicing grammar.
If your students really enjoy learning grammar, you can ‘flip’ your grammar activities and make them more communicative. First, provide them with a series of sentences or listening clips which have a common grammatical structure (second conditional sentences, for example).
Then have students work together (in English) to identify how the language is structured, so they can discover the grammar point for themselves. This not only gets them talking, but they are doing something they feel confident at.
4. My students are bored of all the repetition
Repetition is an important part of language learning. By practicing things over and over again, your students will come to understand it better and will be able to produce the language more easily. However, repetition is often quite dull, especially for fast learners. Here’s how you can make things more interesting for your teenage students:
Use a greater variety of activities to engage your learners
If you’ve been teaching your students a particular set of vocabulary, a grammatical structure, or some pronunciation rules, think about how else they can practice them.
For example, instead of drilling pronunciation over and over again, ask students to think of all the words they can think of that have the same sound in them (e.g. book, look, cook, shook, etc.). This will help them ‘hear’ the sounds in their heads and improve their understanding of other words.
If you have been learning vocabulary through reading, have students write or tell stories that incorporate the words.
The idea is not to stop repeating the target language or skill, but to practice it in different ways. Apply this principle to other areas of language learning so your students won’t feel like they are repeating things.
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In the fast-paced world of business, there is one undeniable fact that holds true: employees are the key to success. Their commitment and expertise propel organizations towards their objectives, which is why investing in a learning culture is essential. The advantages are numerous and include improved staff retention, increased productivity and the goal of higher employee engagement.
You may have heard the term learning management system (LMS) at work or perhaps during your time in education. For many, this throws out images of clunky, outdated systems that clumsily distribute course materials and are tough to use. But that is no longer the case. Modern LMS's are far more user-friendly, and it's time to relearn what you thought you knew about these tools.
In this ultimate guide, we will look at everything you need to know about learning management systems and why they are so beneficial.
What is a learning management system?
The idea is that these LMS platforms offer one central place for users to manage and access courses and learning materials. Depending on the user, this could be anything from self-paced e-courses to classroom training.
This can help facilitate a range of training, studying and skills development, as well as assessments, exams and certification management.
Who uses LMS's and why?
There are many great uses for learning management systems but these are used primarily by businesses and educational establishments. Here are some of the most common use cases for these platforms:
HR and management - The HR and management team might implement these across the business to help with learning and development and make sure that organizational goals are being hit
Employee onboarding - Those starting a new job may be given training via an LMS; this can make the onboarding process much quicker and simpler
Compliance training - Lots of roles require compliance training, for example health and safety training, and this is a great way for businesses to stay up to date and ensure everyone complies with regulations
Customer support - Some businesses use learning management systems to onboard customers or clients. This might include sharing user manuals and product guides. Plus, sales professionals might also use them to train new partners or clients in using their services or platforms.
Classroom learning - Lecturers and teachers can create and share course materials and align content and tests from one place. These can also be used to put a twist on traditional classroom learning.
Blended learning - Schools, colleges and universities may use these for online lessons and blended learning, particularly for remote students
Volunteer training - Charities and non-profits may also use an LMS to educate volunteers and keep them motivated about the cause
Of course, these platforms can and will be used in other ways, but these are some of the most common and beneficial uses for LMS's.
Who has access to LMS's?
In most cases, learning management systems will have two primary user groups: administrators and learners.
Administrators are the people who create, manage and deliver e-learning. They may use these platforms to upload their own learning materials, or they may select courses and materials from an existing list given by the provider.
On the other hand, learners are the professionals or students who will use these platforms to train, study and gain new skills. Many modern LMS's allow multiple learners to train or access materials at the same time.
However, there is a third and final group that we have yet to mention: the parents of students using LMS's, particularly outside of school hours. In some cases, parents may have access to these systems to support students, track their progress or look at feedback from the teacher.
Key features in modern LMS's
There are a variety of learning management systems out there and some are more advanced than others. That being said, many modern platforms will share similar features to ensure they stay competitive. Some of these key features may include:
Authoring tools that allow administrators to upload or build their own courses
Access to subject matter experts who can contribute to learning and development activities
Automated workflows that allow for the creation of personalized learning journeys
A resources library that holds all relevant learning materials, such as guides, video clips and courses
Quizzes and surveys for a more fun and engaging way to assess learners
Compliance features, such as automatic reminders that notify learners when it is time to retrain
Certificates and diplomas that give learners recognition as they study and meet their targets
Insights and analysis for individual progress and results, allowing administrators to identify gaps or areas where support is needed
Compatibility with mobile devices for studying on the go
Integrations with other internal systems and software
This is by no means a complete list and different platforms will have different functionality. However, these are some of the most common and beneficial features of many modern LMSs.
The benefits of using learning management systems
Saving time and money
First and foremost, an LMS can be an excellent way for businesses to save time and money on training.
Of course there is an initial investment in the platform, but training can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it must take place in a location outside of the workplace. Therefore, this can be the more cost-effective solution. Not to mention, the materials are quick to access and can save time and effort.
Ensuring compliance training is completed
These platforms are an excellent way to ensure that all mandatory training is completed on time and to the highest standard. For example, industry-specific training such as fire safety or cybersecurity training.
Provide accurate data
Administrators can access data and insights into their employee's learning. This can be a great way to see where more support is needed and to identify any skills gaps that need to be filled. Similarly, teachers can get to grips with how well their students are doing and if they need extra help in any subjects or areas.
Improves the learning experience
Whether in school or the workplace, LMS's can be a great way to improve the learning process. It allows users to study and access learning materials from one accessible location. Plus, through a multimedia approach, they can use guides, videos and more to help them learn. This can ensure they engage with the materials and stay motivated.
Finally, an LMS can make communication between students, teachers, employees and employers far simpler. For example, automated reminders keep everyone in the loop and ensure all training is completed on time. But more than that, there is one central place to communicate, review feedback and access the same materials.